Anyone interested in running is likely aware of the mental and physical benefits: a healthier heart, less stress, stronger bones and more. But avid runners also notice their running habit creeps into other areas of their life — in a good way.
Here are some of the less obvious side benefits people experience when they take up a running habit, straight from runners themselves.
SUPERCHARGED PROBLEM SOLVING
“When I’m running and the positive chemistry starts cranking up, I love to think about my current work problems that need a complex solution,” says Dave Hoch, who has been a runner for 10 years. “There’s something about mixing high-intensity exercise and ideating that produces outstanding mental space to problem-solve.”
“I used to be a huge procrastinator, always putting things off,” says Rhys Jenkins, an ultramarathon runner. “Running has freed up my reservations on things. If I can run a marathon a day, I can sure as heck make that phone call, negotiate that deal or deal with an irritating client.” Of course, most people won’t be running an entire marathon each day, but there’s something to be said for the cumulative effect of checking things off your to-do list, starting with your run.
LESS FEAR OF FAILURE
When Rhiannon Moore started running, she was alternating walking and running intervals. She saw fast progress, and loved beating her old personal bests. That really helped her self-esteem and mental fitness. But she also learned that getting to success also often involved setbacks, which had an impact in other areas of her life. “It’s made it easier to accept when I don’t achieve my goals,” she says. “I know that success isn’t linear, and it goes up and down and back and forward. It’s allowed me to accept this in other aspects of my life, too, so my self-esteem isn’t damaged by a dip in progress every once in a while.”
MORE ENERGY = MORE INCOME
“My energy skyrocketed after I began running frequently,” says Ben Pavlov, a personal trainer. For him, that meant more working hours and a higher earning potential. “My afternoon slump disappeared and I found myself able to work harder for longer periods of time, which resulted in getting more done.”
A BETTER SENSE OF DIRECTION
Pavlov also noticed taking up running helped him get to know his local area like the back of his hand. “As someone who is lost without Google Maps, I found myself better at navigating the streets close to my house since I was always exploring new areas to run.”
IT HIGHLIGHTS YOUR HEALTH
“If it weren’t for running, I would not have known that I had several hidden health issues,” says Whitney Heins, founder of The Mother Runners. Runners get in tune with their bodies, learning what’s normal for them, and what’s not. “My paces were off and I felt lethargic running. Finally, I got bloodwork done and learned that I had hormone imbalances, deficiencies, a thyroid issue, and other health concerns. I would have never known this had I not been running.”
MORE TIME TO LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS OR PODCASTS
“Since taking up running, I’ve listened to a huge variety of podcasts and audiobooks that I never had the time to listen to before,” says Stephanie Morgyn a health coach who took up and fell in love with running when her yoga studio closed due to the pandemic. “I used to only turn on podcasts if I had a long commute somewhere or if I had extra time in my day, which was not very often. Since taking up running, I have downloaded and followed almost 20 different podcasts and have committed to listening to at least one episode or reading one chapter per day. It’s been a great way to expand my mind and learn while running!”
A CONNECTION TO HAPPIER MEMORIES
“Running has given me a chance to reconnect with my childhood,” says Jennifer Theuriet, a productivity coach. “I run the trails around the lake where I spent lots of time relaxing with my family growing up. Recently, my mom passed away and right beside my running trail, we planted a tree to honor her. I stop, say hi to mom, catch my breath, and water the tree.”
BETTER SELF-CONFIDENCE AND A HEALTHIER LIBIDO
When exercise physiologist Fiona Perkins started running regularly, she was particularly surprised at one of the results: “I’ve noticed an increase in my libido and self-confidence,” she says. While extreme training regimens may reduce libido, a low or moderate training load can boost your mood, mental health, and self-image, all of which can contribute to a healthier sex drive.
AN UNSPOKEN SENSE OF BELONGING
“When you become a runner, you join a secret club — whether you know it or not,” says Jenni Madsen, a blogger and avid runner. “When I pass other runners, we do the secret runners nod or bump a high five without thinking. It’s a great feeling to be in a community like that.”